08/23/2007

WVU Center for Neuroscience Researchers receive Honors

Two West Virginia University scientists received honors this month for their research at the WVU Center for Neuroscience. 

Saravanan Kolandaivelu, Ph.D., received the Knights Templar Eye Foundation grant, a one-year, $30,000 grant to study childhood blindness. His research looks at changes in proteins and their function that cause childhood blindness. 

“We want to understand more about what happens with this disease so we know what treatment therapies to use,” Kolandaivelu said.  “Before we can find a cure, we have to identify the mechanisms behind childhood blindness.”

 Saravanan Kolandaivelu, Ph.D.  “I’m fortunate to be working directly with a project that could lead to treatments for childhood blindness,” he said.

Kolandaivelu works as a post-doctoral fellow with Visvanathan Ramamurthy, Ph.D., in his ophthalmology laboratory. Ramamurthy received $1.65 million from the National Eye Institute earlier this year to study childhood blindness. 

 “It’s encouraging to see people being awarded grants in a relatively new lab like this,” Ramamurthy said.  “These grants are proof that our peers in the scientific community recognize the value and worth of the research done at WVU.”

Brian Hoffpauir, Ph.D., received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, a post-doctoral fellowship. Hoffpauir works with George Spirou, Ph.D., in his sensory neuroscience laboratory. 

Hoffpauir’s research investigates how certain neurons in the auditory system mature before the onset of hearing.  The award covers Hoffpauir’s salary and a portion of his research expenses for the next two years. 

“The long term goal is to understand the underlying mechanisms of brain development,” he said.  “Understanding these early stages of development can provide a foundation for future studies aimed at developing therapies for treating damaged or diseased nervous tissue.”

“Earning this award is a credit to Dr. Hoffpauir’s ability to conduct thorough research and write a complex grant proposal,” said George Spirou, Ph.D., director of the WVU Center for Neuroscience.  “These grants are extremely competitive, so Brian’s success indicates that he is one of the top post-doctoral fellows in sensory neuroscience research.”

Both post-docs credit their mentors as being large contributors to their recent success.

“I don’t think it would have been possible for me to get this grant without support from Dr. Ramamurthy and the Center for Neuroscience,” Kolandaivelu said.

For more information on the West Virginia University Center for Neuroscience, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/wvucn/.

 Brian Hoffpauir, Ph.D.

- WVU -


07-177
For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
johnsa@wvuh.com
cw: 08-23-07

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